Growing up in post-World War Britain, our early musical diet was Housewive's Choice or Workers' Playtime musak. There was little adventurousness. How many times can you ask "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?" or sing about Love and Marriage Going Together Like A Horse and Carriage?
Rock and Roll emerged in my early teens, but until the earnings from my paper round gave me a little financial independence there was little room for musical exploration, so new sounds were still dependent on what the BBC deemed safe for our ears. After all, the establishment didn't want a revolution did they?
UK rock and roll was ersatz, yet still invigorating as we teenagers, a newly identified consumer group, spent our pennies. Pretty boys developed quiffs and gained macho names such as Fame, Fury, Power and Wilde.
And Harry Webb metamorphosed into Cliff Pilchard, now Sir Cliff, and went on a UK tour backed by the Drifters, soon renamed the Shadows, Britain's leading pop group in the years immediately before the Beatles. The Shads were revolutionary in their line up of three guitarists, lead, rhythm and bass plus drums, the lineup that has been the 'norm' for pop and rock groups ever since.
On Tuesday, Tony Meehan
died, aged 62. He was the Shads first drummer on their hits such as Apache
. He later scored hits with Jet Harris, the Shads first lead guitarist.
What I hadn't known about was his work
as a record producer with the likes of PP Arnold, the American singer-songwriter Tim Hardin and Roger Daltrey of the Who and that he led The Tony Meehan Combo.While the group recorded conventional pop tunes (their biggest hit was Song Of Mexico, by Apache composer Jerry Lordan), they had a jazz-oriented stage show that featured future Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and future Miles Davis guitarist John McLaughlin. "We were doing the sort of thing that Chicago and Blood, Sweat And Tears came up with later" Meehan later told an interviewer, "but we were booed off the stage when we did our jazz things."
R.I.P. Tony, a hitherto forgotten music hero.
Another unfashionable music hero was Link Wray
, the original master blaster of rock'n'roll guitar
, who died on November 5th aged 76.
Link is known for his instrumental hit single Rumble
, to quote Uncut magazine, the world's most threatening instrumental
: "The violent intimations of Rumble so struck sensitive late 50s sensibilities that it was banned by many radio stations.
"The instrumental has been cited as an influence on The Who, among others. Pete Townshend stated in liner notes for a 1974 Wray album, "He is the king; if it hadn't been for Link Wray and 'Rumble,' I would have never picked up a guitar."
Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Marc Bolan, Neil Young and Bob Dylan have all cited Wray as an influence.Link himself was influenced by, and admired guitarists like: Tal Farlow, Chet Atkins, Django Reinhard, Jimi Hendrix, George Harrison, Frank Zappa and artists like Elvis Presley & Hank Williams.
Like me, you may not have much, if any, of Link's music, but keep an ear out for the soundtracks of these recent films: Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino), Desperado and Road Racers (both Robert Rodriguez), Independence Day, Confessions of A Dangerous Mind, Breathless and 12 Monkeys.
Two seminal musicians of my youth.
Who will you remember?